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ENGL 1010 - Holt

Broadening and Narrowing Your Topic

Broadening Your Topic: 

If you're not finding many resources on your topic, there are a few strategies that you can use. 

  1. Is your topic very recent? If so, there might not be a lot of academic articles or books out about it yet. Consider a topic that might not be quite as recent. 
  2. Consider broadening by looking at: 
    • similar issues that could be connected (perhaps by comparing or contrasting)
    • looking at a bigger area
      • instead of a specific year, look at the decade or time period surround that year;
      • instead of a specific town, look at the state/province/country/continent;
      • instead of looking at 5 year olds, look at children or young adults or another population

Examples

Narrow topic: 
The impact of the Grimm Brothers' Cinderella on kindergarten children 

Broader topics: 
The impact of fairy tales on children
The impact of the Grimm Brothers on fairy tales
The impact of different fairy tale interpretations on school-age children

 

Narrowing Your Topic: 

If you're finding too many sources, you'll want to narrow your topic a bit. Try a strategy like,  

  1. Try narrowing by adding in: 
    • A specific time period
    • A specific location
    • A specific group of people involved (nationality, age, gender, etc)
    • A specific theory to apply
  2. Try using the W's (who, what, when, where, why) to help you narrow down your research ideas. 

Examples

Broad Topic: 

Why recycling is important

Narrower Topics: 

The impact of recycling plastic in the United States
A comparison of plastic recycling methods in the United States and China
Building houses made from recycled materials in the United States 

 

A Useful Activity for Broadening or Narrowing Your Topic: 

Whether you want to broaden or narrow your topic, sometimes brainstrorming activities like a mind map can be useful. These can be as simple or elaborate as you want. 

Examples: 

Topic: Climate Change

Source: https://www.lucidchart.com/pages/examples/mind-map/climate-change-mind-map-template

 

Topic: Hacktivism, Cyberterrorism, and Cyber War

Source: https://keyboardkat.makes.org/thimble/MjYxNzUxMDQw/team-opportunity-mindmapping

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